All posts by Pierre-Yves Schmid

Motorex: 100 years of success based around the green barrel

Customised products, approachability, and innovative capacity: The long-established Bucher AG Langenthal celebrates its 100th anniversary in June. The lubricant manufacturer with the green barrel has had an eventful history – one that has always been focused around meeting customers’ requirements.

As the largest independent clean-oil refinery in Switzerland, Motorex develops and produces innovative lubricants and technical chemicals. The internationally operating family business with locations in Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, and Poland is active in a wide range of industries, from agriculture through construction to motorsports. Motorex products are constantly being enhanced and tailored to meet special requirements – right down to those of the smallest customer. Together with outstanding quality products and a comprehensive range of services, the SME’s ability to occupy know-how-intensive market niches has proved key to ensuring success on the international market, despite facing stiff competition. Or, as the founding family Regenass-Bucher likes to put it: “The family firm gives the multinationals a run for their money.”

Rex becomes Motorex

The start was modest enough, however. On December 3, 1917, the company was established under the name of “Rex”, specializing in the manufacture of leather and floor-care products. The owners, with cofounder Arnold Bucher among them, drove the company’s growth with great skill, adding motor oils to the range in 1947. A milestone in the company’s history that saw Rex become Motorex. The company went on to focus on highly promising lubricants and care products, continuously expanding its range.

Today, Motorex boasts the biggest storage tank capacity in Switzerland. The company is able to store up to eight million liters of oil, allowing it to provide lubrication solutions for any application, from wheels, to motors, to watches. Motorex is everywhere, and has become our constant companion.

The long-term challenges of quality and s ustainability

Today, Motorex is the largest lubricant manufacturer in Switzerland, employing over 350 highly qualified people, and distributes its products in over 80 countries. The brand’s worldwide success has been achieved and consolidated thanks to targeted research, remarkable innovative capacity, and a typically Swiss penchant for perfection. The company boasts various ISO certificates and aims to achieve systematic quality management across all process stages – placing the requirements of customers at the center, as always. “We pursue quality and leadership in our products with unswerving continuity, and attach great importance to constantly improving our customer service,” says Motorex CEO Edi Fischer. “This maxim is of course also reflected in the laboratory in Langenthal, which recently benefited from extensive renovation work. In addition, we are currently adding new production and administration buildings at our headquarters. With first-class Swiss-made products in Langenthal, Motorex is ready for the future.”

“Given the nature of our business, it goes without saying that the scarcity of fossil fuels is an issue for us.” It is of vital importance to the company in general to operate sustainably and have as little impact as possible on the environment: “Motorex takes responsibility for constantly optimising safety, health, and environmental protection, without being required to do so by laws and regulations.”

EPHJ-EPMT-SMT 2017, Genève, Stand C97

The future of technology at your fingertips: Register for Micro Nano MEMS now

Visitor registration is now open for Micro Nano MEMS 2017, which will take place at the annual Sensors & Instrumentation show in Hall 1 at the NEC, Birmingham on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 September 2017. Visitors will benefit from access to innovative and exciting feature areas, the latest technologies and products from the line-up of exemplary exhibitors and CPD accredited seminars. Plus, the first 200 visitors that make it through the door before 10am on each day will be treated to a complimentary breakfast, sponsored by Keller.

Micro Nano MEMS offers attendees the opportunity to explore market-leading solutions in the micro and nano technology field. The event will cover the full spectrum of technologies, from laser micromachining through to micro injection moulding, and from MEMS fabrication, through to assembly, inspection and test equipment.

What’s more, visitors will also be able to attend expert-led, CPD accredited seminars taking place during both days of the event and covering a range of intellectually stimulating topics. Event manager Jacqui Henderson comments: “The seminars are of great interest to visitors, offering a wealth of knowledge and expertise on some of the most significant findings and progressions in the micro and nano manufacturing field.”

As a part of Sensors & Instrumentation, Micro Nano MEMS also has access to the brand new and fully interactive feature area Connecting Industry L!VE, featuring Stanley Qubit, a fully autonomous NAO-25 humanoid robot as seen on BBC 1. Visitors will be able to see new products live and in action as exhibitors take to the stage to showcase the latest developments in the industry; a unique opportunity to learn how such products can be beneficial to business progression.

Also new this year is the Drone Zone Demo Area, hosted by UK Drone Show. The Drone Zone features demonstrations of the real life applications that are possible with advancing drone technology, incorporating intricate micro technologies, and the obstacles that will need to be overcome for this vision to become a reality.

Returning for 2017 is the popular Formula 1 Simulation Car, sponsored by PR Electronics, guaranteed to bring a competitive and entertaining edge to the event while providing the perfect networking opportunity. Also returning is the Innovation Showcase, which has been expanded to allow even more exhibitors to display their products.

For more information and to register visit

AM industry asks the EU to support research and education

For the third consecutive year, CECIMO organized the “Additive Manufacturing European Conference” (AMEC) on 7 June 2017 in the European Parliament in Brussels (Belgium). The event was a great success, gathering more than a hundred participants among industry leaders and policy-makers. Speakers at AMEC used this occasion to bring attention on the need of a deeper EU approach.

AMEC III was organised by CECIMO and co-hosted by Brando Benifei (S&D), Anthea McIntyre (ECR) and Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (ALDE), Members of the European Parliament. The event highlighted Europe’s outstanding know-how in the development of industrial additive manufacturing and addressed the existing challenges for its adoption in Europe.

At a time of new competitors on the international stage, the conference pointed to the EU policy-makers’ role in advancing Europe’s position in the industry. Industrialists and decision-makers on stage converged on the provision of research funding, support to standardization efforts and creation of a large pool of talents for the industry as key issues for support from the EU policy community. As Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General, said, “it is important to have a forward-looking approach, which will serve the EU in achieving its larger goals, like industrial policy, digitization but also e.g. circular economy”.

AMEC III elaborated also the CECIMO “European Additive Manufacturing Strategy”. The document provides an overview of the policy fields that deserve priority attention of EU authorities. It collects the inputs of several experts and details recommendations to speed up the AM uptake. The Strategy is available on the website at the following link:

is the European Association representing the common interests of the Machine Tool Industries globally and at EU level. We bring together 15 National Associations of machine tool builders, which represent approximately 1300 industrial enterprises in Europe (EU + EFTA + Turkey), over 80% of which are SMEs. CECIMO covers 98% of total Machine Tool production in Europe and about 36% worldwide. It accounts for almost 150,000 employees and a turnover of nearly €24 billion in 2016. Approximately 75% of CECIMO production is shipped abroad, whereas around half of it is exported outside Europe. CECIMO assumes a key role in determining the strategic direction of the European machine tool industry and promotes the development of the sector in the fields of economy, technology and science.

Exhibitors affirm the successful concept of Moulding Expo

Second Moulding Expo attracts around 15,000 visitors from 52 countries to Stuttgart / Greater internationality

Even the première two years ago was a total success. And shortly after the end of the trade fair, it was clear that the second edition of the International Trade Fair for Tool, Pattern and Model Making at the Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre had made an impression on the over 760 exhibitors and around 15,000 visitors from Germany, Europe and many other countries in the world.

“I have never experienced a trade fair which has become established so quickly and at such a high level among exhibitors. I had the impression that the visitors wanted to really absorb the programme items. We have given the tool, pattern and mould making industry a home,” enthused Ulrich Kromer von Baerle, President of Messe Stuttgart. .

Intensive exchanges in the exhibition halls

Exhibitors at Moulding Expo 2017 praised, in particular, the quality and the unusually long duration of the discussions – which often lasted more than one hour. Internationality was another advantage: the visitors came from a total of 52 countries, primarily Austria (16%), Switzerland (12%), Italy (10%), Turkey (8%), the Czech Republic (6%), France and Portugal (5% each). Compared with the première of Moulding Expo, the proportion of international visitors rose from 11% to 15%.

The around 15,000 trade visitors represented every major branch of industry: automobile and automotive component supply industry (42%), tool and mould making (28%), mechanical engineering and plant construction (23%), plastics processing industry and production (16%), pattern making and prototyping (11%) plus various user industries.

The Buyers’ Forum of the Federal Association of Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME) was also held concurrently with Moulding Expo at the Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre. The exhibitors responded positively  to the two guided tours of different exhibition stands for the Forum participants.

Other figures from the trade fair survey: 76% of visitors said that they were solely responsible, jointly responsible or acted in an advisory capacity in regard to purchasing and procurement in their company. 83% of visitors said they would recommend the trade fair to other people.

Live high-tech experience

The accompanying programme containing special shows on trend topics, international technical forums with first-class speakers and extensive career information for young people in the industry underlined the concept of Moulding Expo “from the industry for the industry“. In particular, the opportunity to experience the many different subject areas live and at close quarters went down very well with visitors. The trade fair give-aways produced live from high-tech moulds proved to be real hits: over 11,000 units of the eating cutlery “3-2-eat!“, which were injection moulded on the spot by students from Reutlingen University, were given to visitors. The “Polyman” learning component, which was also produced during the trade fair, also made a lasting impression.

High-ranking politicians as visitors

The visit by Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, was a clear indication of how important Moulding Expo has become in the political landscape in Baden-Württemberg. After his tour through the trade fair, he said he was very impressed with the quality of the event. Katrin Schülz, State Secretary in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics, Labour and Housing, spent two days at the trade fair. The Minister-President and the State Secretary were especially interested in the large number of programme items for young people and school classes.

“The positive response from all participants and the visibly positive mood in the industry are reason enough for Messe Stuttgart to start looking forward to the third edition of Moulding Expo in May/June 2019,” said Ulrich Kromer von Baerle.

Industry 4.0 award for Arburg

On 22 May 2017, Arburg was honoured with the “100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg” award. This award was initiated by the “Industry 4.0 Alliance for Baden-Württemberg” network initiative to honour special achievements in the Industry 4.0 sector.

Arburg received the “100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg” award because its products enable flexible high-volume production in batches as small as a single unit.

A total of 16 Baden-Württemberg-based “flagship projects for manufacturing of the future” were honoured on 22 May. State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Katrin Schütz said: “Industry, small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups in Baden-Württemberg are leading the way in implementing Industry 4.0, as is impressively demonstrated by today’s award-winning solutions. Our aim with this award is to promote tangible solutions from the region, which create added value. The aim is to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to actively exploit the real opportunities offered by Industry 4.0.”

Arburg wins with “flexible high-volume production of single-unit batches”

Katrin Schütz pointed to Arburg as a perfect example of a company that has distinguished itself for decades through its innovative strength and, thanks to its 30 years of experience in IT-networked production, counts among the pioneers in the implementation of “Industry 4.0”. Arburg’s demonstration of “flexible high-volume production of single-unit batches” convinced the panel of judges and received the “100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg” award in the “New Software/Networking Solutions” and “New Production Process” categories.

With its flexible, automated, IT-networked and spatially distributed production of “smart” luggage tags, Arburg recently showed how high-volume production can be combined with the customisation of individual plastic parts at the Hannover Messe 2017 in April. This example shows the future of modern business models, with the aim of integrating customers and their requirements in the value chain and individualising high-volume parts.

Economically efficient production of “smart” luggage tags

The “smart luggage tag” shows how such “mass customisation” can be achieved relatively simply by combining injection moulding and additive manufacturing without sacrificing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness offered by high-volume production. An Allrounder injection moulding machine, a Freeformer for industrial additive manufacturing, as well as automation and IT solutions from Arburg form a flexible cyberphysical production system.

Using an individual NFC chip, the injection moulded product produced on an Allrounder becomes the data and information carrier and controls the further production operations to become a one-off part. It communicates with the machines at the various production stations, knows its own history and current status, as well as navigating its own path through the process chain. The individual plastic design is applied in an additive process using the Freeformer.

A central element here is integration with Arburg’s proprietary ALS host computer system. This records the product, process and quality data and transmits it to a web server. In the “luggage tag” example, each part has its own website. The data for each component can be retrieved and traced at any time, even after many years. Digital networking through the host computer system promotes transparency and consistency and facilitates the optimum utilisation of the full production capacity, particularly in the case of smaller unit volumes and frequent product changeovers.

 “100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg”

The aim of the “Industry 4.0 Alliance for Baden-Württemberg” network initiative is to pool expertise in production technology, as well as information and communication technology, to bring together all key players and to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in industry to move towards Industry 4.0 through innovative information-sharing initiatives.

The “100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg” competition seeks to identify innovative concepts in industry that have succeeded in the intelligent networking of production and value-added processes. As well as examining the level of innovation, the panel of expert judges also assesses specific practical relevance with regard to Industry 4.0. To date, a total of 84 companies, institutions and other organisations have been presented with a certificate and a glass plaque in five award rounds. This number is to reach 100 over the course of 2017.


Dürr Ecoclean supplied its 100th EcoCFlex to a South German automotive manufacturer

In the 100th year of its history, 2016, the BMW Group ordered the 100th EcoCFlex system from Dürr Ecoclean. The anniversary specimen of the flexible robot cell forms part of a three-unit package and has received a special painting. The machines have been serving in a volume production environment at the Steyr engine plant since May 2017.

The custom-painted 100th EcoCFlex system operates in a production line for spark ignition engines at the BMW Group’s Steyr engine plant.

The first EcoCFlex machine for cleaning and deburring engine components went into service at the BMW Group in 2005. Eleven years later, when the company was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its foundation, BMW ordered the 100th cleaning machine of this type as part of a major order. Representing the third generation of Dürr Ecoclean’s flexible robotized cells, this anniversary specimen was launched in production at the Steyr engine plant in early May 2017 along with two other EcoCFlex 3L systems. These cleaning machines are adapted to BMW’s latest specifications for technical cleanliness, replacing the transfer systems previously employed on a production line for petrol engines.

Along with the special painting specified to suit the occasion, the BMW Group opted to order the new EcoCFlex 3L systems with handling technology comprising the Scara manipulator developed by Dürr Ecoclean. This rugged robot was purpose-designed for use in cleaning machines and convinces, among other features, with its innovative control approach. Instead of the separate robot control unit commonly adopted, the EcoCFlex 3L relies on just one single CNC controller to operate both the Scara manipulator and the cleaning machine. This simplifies and accelerates programming, service and maintenance of the overall installation. However, the EcoCFlex 3L sets new standards not only for cleaning quality and ease of operation, but also in terms of energy efficiency.

Dürr Ecoclean is a leading supplier of advanced cleaning technology and surface treatment and activation systems to automotive manufacturers and their tiered suppliers as well as to a broad and diversified industrial market. Dürr Ecoclean’s tailor-made technology enables customers to tap savings potentials, e.g., at the level of per-unit costs, energy demand and cycle times. Dürr Ecoclean currently employs around 800 people at more than 10 sites in eight countries around the globe.

Mold Design: Virtually Optimized Cooling Channels

The thermal layout of a mold can be optimized during the design stage, understanding the effect of the cooling channel size and location over the part deformation and its solidification. With Sigmasoft Virtual Molding, which works as a virtual injection molding machine, it is possible to try different concepts and to evaluate the advantage of more expensive approaches, such as conformal cooling, before even starting to cut the steel.

Above: conventional cooling approach and resulting temperature distribution in the mold cavity. Below: conformal cooling approach (courtesy of IPC) and improved temperature distribution.

Thermal mold design is one of the most critical parameters determining the performance of an injection molding operation. Up to now, a lot was left to guessing and prior experiences. This approach is changing with the latest simulation tools, and one of the pioneers has been IPC, Innovation Plasturgie Composites, from Oyonnax, France, who has successfully used Sigmasoft Virtual Molding for six years in the design of their injection molds’ thermal layout.

IPC’s approach has been to carefully analyze the impact of different cooling concepts virtually to find the one that best suits their requirements. The company combines traditional cooling systems with conformal cooling. The analysis performed with Sigmasoft Virtual Molding allows them to quickly detect the impact of every iteration on the mold performance (in terms of cycle time) and on the part quality (regarding warpage and residual stresses).

“Using Sigmasoft Virtual Molding has helped us to be more reliable in the design phase”, states Eric Pauze, Design Manager and Responsible for the Business Unit Conception and Simulation. “IPC has been working on cooling optimization with conformal cooling in ALM in the tools for ten years. We are sensitive to thermal homogeneity of injected parts as a quality criteria check. Each system is designed and then tested using Sigmasoft to qualify the cooling benefit compared to standard systems. Through this software, we had also generated hours saving thanks to the preprocessor efficiency.”

Sigmasoft Virtual Molding follows a unique approach. It works like a virtual injection molding machine, reproducing precisely all the effects seen in reality. The mold, with all its components, is defined in the simulation. Each component is defined with its own material properties. Also the injection molding process is thoroughly set-up, just as in reality. Not only the injection, packing and solidification stages are considered, but also the dead times between processes, which are relevant in the heat transfer of the complete molding cycle.

The part deformation and its solidification behavior are a combination of all factors affecting the thermal mold performance. The thermal layout of the cooling channels is one of these factors. If there is a hot spot in the mold, either due to a very large concentration of plastic material over the part, or due to insufficient mold cooling, the part will shrink more in this area, affecting the overall warpage. A hot spot will also delay the solidification of the part.

In the example seen in Figure , a conventional cooling is considered for a plastic part. The cavity temperature distribution is seen on the right side. Below, the part is optimized with a cooling concept provided by IPC. As seen, the mold temperature is substantially reduced, and the cycle time can be decreased by around 27%.

Sigma Engineering GmbH presents its Virtual Molding technology at the upcoming FIP Solution Plastique trade show at booth M14. The show takes place between 13th and 16th June 2017 in Lyon, France.